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A European Supergrid: new inquiry

14 February 2011

The Energy and Climate Change Committee is today launching an inquiry to investigate the potential for building a European Supergrid.

On 3 December 2010 the UK signed a Memorandum of Understanding with nine other European states, which set out a schedule for the development of an offshore electricity transmission grid with a network of North and Irish Sea sub-sea cables. Consideration of a “supergrid” comes as the UK is expected to electrify and decarbonise its economy.

In the past the UK has often been thought of as an “energy island”: capable of producing its own energy supplies and independent from the rest of Europe. A supergrid could deepen the UK’s interdependence with other electricity systems, requiring stronger political, economic and technical linkages. It has been suggested by the Government that this has potential for improving energy security and for saving money for consumers, as well as contributing to climate change mitigation goals. However, the Committee considers that a number of technical and political questions remain unanswered.

Terms of Reference

The Committee will investigate whether the UK’s contribution to the development of a supergrid is feasible. It will look at the political challenges that accompany increasing interconnection between UK and mainland Europe and how the balance of costs and benefits of a supergrid will affect the UK. The Committee invites submissions on the development of a supergrid and, in particular:

  • What are the technical challenges for the development of a European Supergrid?
  • What risks and uncertainties would a supergrid entail?
  • How much would it cost to create a supergrid and who would pay for it?
  • Will a supergrid help to balance intermittency of electricity supply?
  • Will a supergrid reduce energy prices for consumers and businesses?
  • What are the implications for UK energy policy of greater interconnection with other power markets?
  • Which states are potential partners with the UK in a supergrid project?
  • How would a supergrid contribute to the goals of the EU Third Energy Liberalisation Package?
  • Would new institutions be needed to operate and regulate a supergrid?

Written evidence is invited from interested parties. The deadline for the submission of written evidence is Thursday 31 March 2011.

Notes on submitting written evidence

Written evidence should be in Word or rich text format-please do not use PDF format-and sent by e-mail to The body of the e-mail must include a contact name, telephone number and postal address. The e-mail should also make clear who the submission is from. Hard copy submissions should be sent to: The Clerk, Energy and Climate Change Committee, 7 Millbank, London, SW1P 3JA. The deadline is Thursday 31 March 2011. As a guideline submissions should be no longer than 3000 words. However, please contact the Committee staff if you wish to discuss this matter.

Submissions should be in the format of a self-contained memorandum. Paragraphs should be numbered for ease of reference, and the document should, if possible, include an executive summary.

Submissions should be original work, not previously published or circulated elsewhere. Once submitted, your submission becomes the property of the Committee and no public use should be made of it unless you have first obtained permission from the Clerk of the Committee. Please bear in mind that Committees are not able to investigate individual cases.

The Committee normally, though not always, chooses to publish the written evidence it receives, either by printing the evidence, publishing it on the internet or by making it publicly available through the Parliamentary Archives. If there is any information you believe to be sensitive you should highlight it and explain what harm you believe would result from its disclosure; the Committee will take this into account in deciding whether to publish or further disclose the evidence.

For data protection purposes, it would be helpful if individuals wishing to submit written evidence send their contact details in a covering letter. You should be aware that there may be circumstances in which the House of Commons will be required to communicate information to third parties on request, in order to comply with its obligations under the Freedom of Information Act 2000.

Further information